Chicken rice. This was the first thing that marathon runner Soh Rui Yong, 23 had felt like eating – the moment he had touched down in Singapore – from the USA last Thursday – for the 2015 SEA Games.
Said Soh, a Business student at the University of Oregon in the USA, “I had wanted some good chicken rice as soon as I had landed in Singapore. But when I went to the hawker centre, I got distracted and my first meal became yong tau foo instead. Maybe I’ll have the chicken rice after the SEA Games instead – as it’s not actually that healthy after all.”
Satisfied his cravings for a number of local foods
Besides the yong tau foo, Soh has also successfully satisfied his cravings for a number of other hawker dishes, such as fish soup, wanton mee and dumplings, since he has been back in Singapore. Said Soh, “I have had a lot of fish soup and wanton mee. And after a long run here, I ate 12 to 16 dumplings – together with a bowl of wanton mee. This seems like quite a lot of food, but then again that was after my long run, so I was quite hungry!”
“I love sugarcane juice too and I have had it almost every day since I got back to Singapore. Fruit juices here are also really inexpensive and good after a long run – so I have been drinking plenty of it too,” added the marathoner.
Does not have a single favourite hawker food
He doesn’t really have a single favourite hawker food, though, due to the large variety of local hawker fare available. Said Soh, “There’s too many types of food and everything is my favourite! For instance, I love fish soup, duck porridge as well as fried Hokkien mee – but maybe the Hokkien mee can wait till after the SEA Games though.”
Has cooked once since arriving back in Singapore
The runner also admitted that due to the ease and convenience of getting the local hawker fare, he hasn’t done much cooking since arriving back in Singapore. In fact, he has only put his culinary skills into practice once here – when he prepared a healthy pasta & chicken meal.
The rest of his meals have primarily comprised of local hawker food, but Soh quickly added that he tries to use common sense and choose the healthier options, whenever possible. For example, he avoids deep-fried foods as they may play havoc with his stomach especially with the marathon looming so near.
In the USA, the marathoner cooks most of his meals – so that he can eat more healthily.
Is pleased with his training sessions in Singapore
Besides satisfying his food cravings, Soh has also managed to get some quality training sessions in, while acclimatising back to the heat and humidity levels in Singapore. He said, “For one of my recent high intensity track workouts, I started warming up at 6.45am and my workout began at around 7.45am. It was great for the first half of the session, but during the second half, it was so tough because it just got hotter and hotter and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky! It was super hot and humid and not easy at all, but that’s exactly what I need to acclimatise to.”
He points out that this is quite different to training in the USA, where it is usually too cold to wake up at 5am. Instead, the best times to train are around 8am to 10am when the weather gets slightly warmer. Added Soh, “Here, you cannot start your warm-up at 10am otherwise you are just going to get screwed by the heat.”
In addition, last Sunday, Soh also did a long run at East Coast Park and he was pleased with his progress. He added, “I completed a 2hours 15minutes long run and covered more than 31km so I am glad that this is working out pretty well. The run felt good too and I am confident that as long as I get to the start line healthy, I can make something happen.”
Touched by the show of support by Singaporeans
Soh is touched by the show of support that Singaporeans have been giving, when they bump into him. He said, “When I was running at East Coast, there were people whom I didn’t really know, shouting my name out and telling me to go for gold at the SEA Games. So it was nice to see that people are aware of what is going on and I am sure the support would be quite nice on race day.”
And he was rather tickled that he had also been mistaken for fellow national marathoner Mok Ying Ren – who had pulled out of the SEA Games due to injury. Said Soh, “It happened when someone pointed me out as our Team Singapore marathoner. I then heard his friend say ‘oh you must be that Mok Ying guy’ but she couldn’t quite get his name right. I told her, ‘No, I’m better looking!’ in order to diffuse the tension – but that was quite funny.”
Soh added, “But then again, I guess that Mok has been around for a long time as a marathoner, so when some people think of a marathon runner, the first one that they think of is Mok, and you can’t really blame them for that. While Mok has run probably more than 10 marathons, I have run only one, so I am still new to it.”
Excited about making his SEA Games debut at home
He is quite excited about the prospect of making his SEA Games debut on home soil next month. Soh said, “This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as the last Singapore SEA Games was in 1993 and I would probably have stopped competing when the next one comes around. So I will treasure and enjoy every moment of it.”
He added, “To take my mind off the anticipation and pressure of the SEA Games, I haven’t really thought much about the competition at all. While it is exciting to look around and see that everything is being set up, I will just show up on race day, healthy and give it my best shot. In fact ever since I have been back, I have been using the time to catch up with old friends, so that has helped me to relax my mind.”
Scheduled to take part in the Men’s 10,000m event as well
Apart from the marathon, Soh is also scheduled to take part in the Men’s 10,000m (10km) event at the SEA Games – three days after his 42km run. Explained Soh, “But I am putting all my eggs into the marathon basket and will see how that goes, as I have been planning for the marathon all year.
“And I will base my participation in the 10km on how my body feels after that. If I am not up to scratch and I can’t give my best, then I don’t think there is a point going out there and simply making up the numbers,” he added.
Hopes Singaporeans can come out in full force to show their support
Come the day of the marathon, on 7 June, Soh hopes that Singaporeans can come out in full force to show their support not only for him, but also his fellow marathoners. He said, “This last year has been so exciting because of all the support I have received from everyone and I do believe that I can do something special on race day. So do come out here and support Ashley (Liew) and the two girls, Rachel (See) and (Neo) JieShi – and I think you guys will have a good time.
“Whether we win or not, it will be a good fight to the finish, so go and support us. Also, in this type of weather, timings get thrown out of the window too, so this marathon could be won in 2:30hours or a slower time. But if someone can run below 2:30hours, then they have a great chance of winning. Let’s see what happens,” Soh added.
Other Blog Posts
- Soh Rui Yong’s Favourite Recipes
- Soh Rui Yong: Gearing up for SEA Games
- NTUC Earth Runner’s Clinic with Soh Rui Yong
- Tips From Soh Rui Yong
- How Soh Broke the 10,000m National Record